PURPOSE: Asthma is an important cause of chronic morbidity and mortality in Nigeria despite several international guidelines to raise awareness and information on its management.We sought to assess the knowledge of this condition and its management among newly qualified doctors.
METHODS: A questionnaire eliciting details on the knowledge of asthma symptoms, its diagnosis, evaluation and treatment was administered to one hundred and seventy fresh doctors from two of Nigeria's major medical schools- OAU Hospital, Ile-Ife and UC Hospital, Ibadan.
RESULTS: 80% of the respondents managed between 1–3 asthmatics every month. Cough, breathlessness, chest tightness and wheeze were considered symptoms of asthma by 87%, 91%, 96% and 99% of respondents respectively. 84% of these house doctors considered PEF measurement useful in its diagnosis, 79% would do a spirometry and 27% consider chest radiographs important in making a diagnosis. In assessing for severity, 86% looked for cyanosis, 63% looked for pulsus paradoxicus, 74% for fast pulse rate and 71% will consider the duration of the attack.92% had seen a peak flow meter, 94% knew its use, 67% considered it necessary but only 49% had ever used it in managing asthma. In intermittent asthma, 92% use inhaled salbutamol, 7% use nebulised salbutamol, 16% use IV aminophyline, 54% use oral steroid and 36% use inhaled steroids as part of the management plan. In acute severe asthma, 91% of respondents will administer oxygen, 32% use nebulised salbutamol 83% would give IV aminophyline, 39% will give steroid inhaler, 55% will use salbutamol inhaler but only 28% will give prednisolone. 23% of respondents considered diazepam relevant in asthma treatment.
CONCLUSION: There is a gross lack of knowledge of Asthma and its management among doctors in Nigeria. Adherence to asthma treatment guidelines is poor and such guidelines need to be popularized or simplified.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: CMEs on Asthma will be important in curtailing the increasing morbidity and mortality associated with this condition in developing countries like Nigeria.
DISCLOSURE: Gregory Erhabor, None.